Speaker’s cor­ner

The Independent on Saturday - - OPINION - James clarke

SOME­BODY men­tioned on Ra­dio 702 the other day “how neu­rotic” the apartheid gov­ern­ment was – es­pe­cially to­wards the end. Ah yes. I re­mem­ber that day in 1987 when an Ir­ish woman threw a tomato at pres­i­dent PW Botha. In the hal­lowed tra­di­tion of African despots he phoned the SABC news­room with in­struc­tions on how it must han­dle the story. He told them, un­der no cir­cum­stances must they men­tion “toma­toes”. He then had the woman de­ported. Let me take you back to that fate­ful week… “It’s the po­lice,” said my wife, ir­ri­ta­bly, as she went back to the kitchen to stir the casse­role. “They’re at the front door and com­ing over the back wall.”

The cap­tain who con­fronted me was in cam­ou­flage bat­tle-dress, but I could still see him plainly. I thought of warn­ing him about this.

He said: “I have a war­rant to search your gar­den.” “My gar­den?” “We hear you are grow­ing toma­toes.” “Toma­toes?” “With­out a per­mit. Toma­toes are now clas­si­fied as of­fen­sive weapons.” “Of­fen­sive?” “Lead us to your veg­etable gar­den.” A con­sta­ble drew a sharp breath as he saw my red and shiny toma­toes.

The cap­tain read me my rights. He was very brief. Twenty cam­ou­flaged po­lice­men took up po­si­tions. They looked like Birn­ham Wood ar­riv­ing at Dun­si­nane. I tried hu­mour­ing them by im­i­tat­ing Mr Bean wa­ter­ing the gar­den but to no avail.

The cap­tain’s eyes fell on my bright red peppers. He drew back, sharply.

He in­structed a con­sta­ble: “Get Arm­scor on the ra­dio.”

“Why are you rolling out all this ra­zor wire?” I asked.

“Should some of these toma­toes con­tain ex­plo­sive some­body’s life could be in dan­ger.” “That’s ab­surd!” “I am merely quot­ing what FW de Klerk said af­ter the tomato was thrown at our pres­i­dent,” he said.

A con­sta­ble was in the let­tuce patch tram­pling my seedlings. I shouted: “Watch where you put your feet!”

The cap­tain took it the wrong way. He or­dered a neigh­bour­hood evac­u­a­tion. It is dif­fi­cult to say where it all would have ended had not my wife emerged from the kitchen with her wooden spoon and shooed them all away. Su­per in­fla­tion An Aus­tralian de­part­men­tal store places in­flat­able se­cu­rity guards in the aisles at night – and, in the US, sin­gle women buy in­flat­able “boyfriends” for their cars’ pas­sen­ger seat. This has prompted me to open a busi­ness: sell­ing in­flat­able politi­cians.

Are you fed up with those in charge of fi­nance, for in­stance – and who can’t even add up? Then why not buy your very own in­flat­able mail-or­der min­is­ter and work off your frus­tra­tions on him?

The life-sized model comes with a hid­den speaker that re­sponds to your oral ques­tions.

The econ­omy model sim­ply goes “blah blah blah blah”. But at the top of the range we of­fer a blow-up MP whose voice re­spon­der has a 100-word range – 50 more than any liv­ing par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. These are not stuffed dum­mies like the ones you see in the de­bat­ing cham­bers; these are life-like. And you can in­sult them and punch them and de­flate them, pro­duc­ing hi­lar­i­ously rude noises.

The “imvubu” model is black, plump, male or fe­male, dressed in caf­tan or floral col­lar­less shirt. Sound ef­fects: steady dron­ing sound ac­tu­ally recorded at a Metropoli­tan Coun­cil meet­ing (R299).

The “Van Jaarsveld” is white or red; fat; jacket and tie; big; grey shoes. An­swers “ja nee” to all ques­tions (R299).

The “Leader” – nat­u­ral po­si­tion is cross­legged. But, at the press of a but­ton on your re­mote con­trol, this model springs up­right shout­ing in­sults. Range of 10 tra­di­tional in­sults, recorded in Soweto or Ven­ters­dorp de­pend­ing on the colour se­lected (R399).

The “Back­bencher” sits with head rest­ing on chest. Makes lit­tle snor­ing and flat­u­lence sounds when re­mote con­trol ac­ti­vated. Good con­ver­sa­tion piece if seated among guests at your next din­ner party (R499).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.